Tips for Sleeping on Your Next Overseas Flight

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by sobore, Jun 29, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://blog.cheapoair.com/news/tips-for-sleeping-on-your-next-overseas-flight.aspx

    Many people have a love/hate relationship with flying. They love the part of getting there, but often hate what it takes to get there, whether it's going through security, layovers, or turbulent flights. Catching some shut eye on a long flight can be one of the biggest challenges of a long flight. Mixed with jet lag, that can make for a long first couple of days in a new destination. However, there are some things you can do to help you sleep better on your next flight.

    Take an overnight flight: While most people fly first thing in the morning or early in the day, if you want to get some shut eye, than book a late night flight. The lights are turned down and there's less activity by flight attendants to help make it the right environment for getting some shut eye. If you're lucky, you might even have an entire row to yourself.

    Book a window seat: There's nothing more embarrassing than being in a middle seat and falling asleep on the shoulder of one of your neighbors. Being in a window seat can help ensure this doesn't happen. Not to mention that you won't be getting nudged every time somebody needs to get up to go to the bathroom.

    Bring your own pillow: Airplane pillows can often leave much to be desired. Most airlines don't even offer pillows as a free amenity and the ones you have to pay for aren't going to be like that fluffy pillow you have back home. It may take buying a couple different types of pillows to find the right one, but having a good pillow that can fit into your carry-on can bring more comfortable sleep on a long flight.

    Noise-canceling headphones: Headphones can be effective, but it often doesn't drown out the airplane noise, announcements, and chatter around you. Invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones that can help lull you to sleep and block out everything around you. If listening to music on the plane isn't your thing, grab a pair of ear plugs before you board your flight.

    Have a couple drinks: Not a few, but a couple. The last thing your seatmates want is someone who has to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes because they had too much to drink. Consider having a glass of wine an hour before your flight and then one drink on-board. Just remember to go the bathroom before you board so you don't bother your neighbors throughout the flight to run to the bathroom.
     
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  2. jmrich1432
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    Thanks for the tips, sobore!

    I am a fan of melatonin to help me sleep on long-haul flights. I don't take it normally, so it works wonders when I do need it. And I always bring an eye shade!
     
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  3. VVanderlust

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    What's your recipe? I have you want to take around 3mg when you got on the flight and for a couple of nights before bed local time after.
     
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  4. jmrich1432
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    I use 3mgs of Melatonin (or 5mg if I can't find 3mg tablets). I would highly, highly recommend trying 1mg (or cut a 3mg tablet in half, just make sure it's not time-realease!) for a few nights at home if you've never taken melatonin before. Then move up to 3mg before your flight just to make sure it works for you. You never want to be taking anything for the first time on a flight, especially on a long-haul flight!

    So I take 3mg and half a muscle relaxer 8-9 hours before I want to "wake up." You may not sleep that whole time, but you want to be getting tired at the right time. Melatonin is what your body naturally produces to make you sleepy so when you're using it to re-set your clock you want to do it when you want to be getting tired, not to keep you asleep. I have taken it 1-2 nights after landing if I'm really not feeling tired, but I try not to use it all that much. SO needs it for a longer amt of time after arriving so he does continue for 3-4 days taking it.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  5. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I buy the first one but not the others.

    Drink? A quick look at the human physiology and altitude effects or dehydration prove that is silly. No alcohol before or during a flight reduces the effects of jet lag. That is true, but not all of us will practice abstention anyway. anyway.

    Window seats? obviously not frequent flyers. Being in C or F helps a lot too, of course, but everyone cannot do that.

    Bring your own pillow? Sure, but I want to travel light. Ditto for the headphones.
     
  6. JSpira
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    The first tip (overnight flight) makes sense but the term "overnight flight" is subject to definition. It´s also not readily accomplishable on most TATL flights to the U.S.

    I find I don´t like flights that depart New York around 17h or 18h or 19h. I try to take flights departing 22h or later (I´m soon to fly on a KLM flight to AMS that leaves at 22h50 for example).

    The other tips seem odd to me. Drink? As jbcarioca already noted, that´s plain silly. I don´t even typically eat very much (although the KLM flight is long enough to have an appetizer before pressing the bed button). I´ll have a sip of wine but most of what I will drink in flight is water.

    My own personal tip and strategy for flying, at least for TATL flights eastward, is to get up a few hours earlier on the two preceding days to get your internal clock at least halfway on the new timezone. This works quite well for me and pretty much ensures that I am sleep when I get on the late-night flight.
     
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  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    I take a benadryl and have a couple glasses of wine. Then I watch a really boring movie on my iPad. Next thing I now we're on final approach to Frankfurt.
     
  8. TRAVELSIG
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    Good to have discussion on this topic- I seriously disagree with the "have a couple of drinks" point. Water only and eat as little as possible on the flight- just a salad and maybe some cheese if anything at all (better to eat prior to flying and on arrival). Setting body clock to new time zone is the really winning formula for longhaul.
     
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  9. JSpira
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    Why are you taking benadryl? Are you suffering from sneezing, runny nose, itching, hives, or watery eyes?

    Taking Benadryl with alcohol is a bad idea. Benadryl is diphenhydramine. Common side effects of diphenhydramine include profound blurred vision, drowsiness, ataxia, and tachycardia. Alcohol similarly impacts the CNS. Mixing the two will only serve to amplify the side effects.

    On the other hand, studies have shown that low doses of alcohol (360 ml) will increase total sleep time and reduce awakening during the night. So a small amount of alcohol alone should promote better sleep, even on the aircraft.
     
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  10. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    No. But it makes me sleepy. I never take "real" sleeping pills, even at home or my destination 9 timezones away. Benadryl works usually great, better than Ambien which has proven to be a complete waste on me.

    Years of tests in a controlled environment (747 or 777) have shown that 1-2 glasses of cheap UA "wine" combined with a benaryl work for my body. :)
     
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  11. JSpira
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    Have you ever just tried a small amount of wine?
     
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Yes, for years... before my medical advisor (wife) suggested trying a benadryl when I was having problems falling asleep (at home). For what it's worth, it's atually sold as a sleep aid (Sominex brand) so I am not doing anything strange or contrary to FDA approvals.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sominex
     
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  13. jbcarioca
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    For me the same tactic always works. I take a redeye. Once the gear has been retracted I recline and commence sleeping. Six hours later i awaken refreshed and all is well. Mrs. jb has been irritated by this strange talent i have for sleeping at will, but I like it quite well myself.
     
  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Tonight I'll continue my scientific experiments by testing benadryl (really generic Costco allergy relief pill, but same thing) combined with good/decent LH F wine. :)
     
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  15. JSpira
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    Except mixing it with alcohol :)
     
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  16. JSpira
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    I cannot sleep at will except on really long-haul flights. That is why I have to prepare my internal clock in advance.
     
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  17. jbcarioca
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    Nearly all my flights are long-haul, ten hours or more. However, teh time zone is rarely more than three hours one way or the other, and usually less, so I just ignore it. When I travel East-West I do adopt the destination time zone ASAP. Even that is impossible for SQ21-22, one of my favored flights.
     
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  18. JSpira
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    most of my flights are east-west or the reverse so I am typically changing 5 or 6 hours in terms of timezones. I can´t ignore it. My average flighttime (based on my own calculations) is 6 hours but that of course is an average that includes some short flights. My typical flight is probably in the 6-8 hour range.
     
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  19. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Sure, but it appears to have no negative side effects for me. Small amounts of wine - I have no experience when combining it with more than 2 of those small airplane glasses of wine.

    Getting away from this, though: noise canceling headsets work well, too, for me. Unfortunately I often have to decide against my BOSE when packing my carry-on as they take up so much more space than my in-ear Shure, which aren't as comfortable on long flights. Looking forward to one of these days trying the A380 and its quieter cabin.
     
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  20. jbcarioca
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    Put me in an A380 and I sleep right away. I do love flying in the A380. Luckily I have not had to do so in steerage.
     
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  21. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    I suspect I'll end up flying in steerage before I fly in C or F. I keep telling myself that hundreds of people survive it on every flight and so did I before I discovered FT five years ago. But my butt/back disagree with my brain.
     
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  22. sfo1
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    I have some sleeping pills that were prescribed by my Dr. they were orginally for another problem, but since I never had to use them for that, I now take one when I fly overnight. It puts me out for about 6 hours or perhaps a little more. I never drink anything but water on a flight, usually eat prior to flight, and never eat on the flight if the flight departs after 2100. I always have ear plugs, eye mask, and an inflatable pillow.
     
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  23. Elusive

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    I know a few folks who use Ambien. Some take it on long haul flights and others only when they land on the first night.

    The thinking is that Ambien can be strong stuff where if you're suddenly awoken (like if the plane is going down!) you're not as alert and active to react but once you're safe and sound in your bed you can pop one and get a good night's sleep.

    I don't pharmaceutic-ly enhance my travel, I knock back a glass of wine, wear noise cancelling heads and a eye shade which usually helps me sleep. If you're flying to Europe see if you can get a day flight where you land at night and then go right to sleep. You lose the day flying which isn't a bad trade off if you struggle with jetlag. I pile up on admin work, reports, emails to respond to, etc. I don't sleep on the flight but for an hour or so and plow through my work.

    Two factors people generally mistake for jetlag is dehydration and sleep debt which a long haul flight will make worse. Increase your sleep time and water intake before your flight.
     
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  24. General_Flyer
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    So this is strictly for Y travels correct? :p
     
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  25. Analise
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    I have the hardest time falling asleep on a plane no matter if I'm up front or in the back. Flying to Europe is especially challenging as I want to sleep so I am good to go when arriving the next morning. I'm with jbcarioca regarding traveling lightly and not drinking due to dehydration concerns. I wish I could fall asleep. Like now...it's 1:45am and I'm awake. UGHHHH
     

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